Anger makes fools of all of us.
We see a number of concerning decisions made by David in these chapters, namely becoming a polygamist, running out of fear to Israel’s enemies and practicing deception against them. But in chapter 25, David is confronted by the fool Nabal, who is agreed by everyone (his servants, his wife, and apparently his parents, given his name — Nabal means “fool”) to be a “worthless” man. When asked by David to repay his kindness to Nabal’s shepherds, Nabal responds, “Who is David? Who is the son of Jesse?” Clearly, given his second question, he knows who David is. This is not a request for information, but a slight against David as yet another rebel in the land instead of the Lord’s anointed to be king over Israel.
Proverbs 29:9 speaks of the pointlessness of arguing with a fool. But instead of leaving Nabal, the fool to his own inevitable ruin, David reacts in anger, escalating the situation by ordering his men to bring their swords. How many times when slighted, do we mentally strap on our swords for the next time we will encounter our Nabal? We get our sharp words ready to lash out and cut down.
Only wise Abigail, the peacemaker, defuses the situation by reminding David that to strike out is a sin, even if your target is a worthless fool like Nabal.
Do you struggle with anger? Do you have a Nabal in your life? You are not justified to set him right. It is not righteous to repay foolishness with foolishness. Rather, as Abigail urges David, forgive the trespass.
We must also ask ourselves how closely we resemble Nabal. Are we thoughtless, boorish, loose-tongued, undisciplined, and unwilling to receive insight and correction? Proverbs 10:8 cautions that “the babbling fool will come to ruin.”